Polymathic Old World prehistorian. Born in Oldham, Lancashire, Sherratt studied at Peterhouse, Cambridge, and graduated in archaeology and anthropology in 1968. As a postgraduate at Cambridge he worked on the early Bronze Age in the area between the Danube and the north Aegean with David Clarke. In 1973 he took up a post at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, where he remained until 2005. He played a key role in establishing an undergraduate degree in archaeology and anthropology at Oxford, and was made a professor there in 2002. In October 2005 he moved to the newly created Chair of Old World Prehistory at Sheffield University. While at Oxford he achieved international recognition with his model of a Secondary Products Revolution across the Old World. In this and other work Sherratt sought to update the diffusionist ideas of Gordon Childe, drawing on world system theory and dialectic models to unpick the patterns. Together with his wife, Susan, he explored how and why technologies, symbols, and goods that originated in the Near East were adopted by European societies. Most of his publications comprised articles in books and journals, a selection of which he brought together as Economy and society in prehistoric Europe (1996, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press). He was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in 1976.
The Independent, 6 March 2006